Invasion of Indigenous territory, deforestation and burnings

The Kantaruré Indigenous community is comprised of the villages of Batida and Baixa das Pedras, in the Kantaruré Indigenous Land and is inhabited by over 400 people. The Kantaruré live at the foot of the Serra Grande in the municipality of Gloria in northern Bahia. This is a semi-arid region of mountains and hills, located 42 kilometres from the municipal centre of Paulo Afonso.  The two villages live in harmony.

According to the cacique [chief] Juraci, territorial invasion by non-Indigenous land grabbers from neighbouring communities (Agrovila G5 Borda do Lago, Mandacaru and Cachorro) have caused conflicts for over 15 years.  These land grabbers deforested and burned an area inside the Indigenous land of about ten tarefas [1 tarefa = 4.356 m² in Bahia]. They did this because they don’t accept the demarcation of the Indigenous Land.

When the Kantaruré became aware of this violation of their land and of the environment, they got together and went to the site to try to talk to the land grabbers. But they were unsuccessful. The cacique said  that it was necessary to denounce the situation to the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) so that the agency could take the appropriate action. After being informed of the event, the National Indian Foundation went to the site and recorded the damage caused by the land grabbers and the person in charge at the foundation scheduled an urgent meeting to resolve the issue. Thinking that the problem was resolved, cacique Juraci and the other Indigenous people returned to the village.

During this same period, the land grabbers took down all the fence wire that enclosed the deforested area. Again, the Indigenous people tried to talk to them, but to no avail. The intruders were only looking for trouble; they were all armed, while the Indigenous people were not. The Kantaruré retreated because their lives were threatened.

In the wake of the threats, the Indigenous people went back to the National Indian Foundation to resolve the situation. Those in charge at the National Indian Foundation in Paulo Alfonso sent a document to the foundation’s headquarters in Brasilia, asking for funds to buy wire to replace the fence at the violated site. The request was granted, however, for the fence to be rebuilt, it was necessary for the Federal Police and the National Indian Foundation to accompany the Indigenous workers during the task.

The National Indian Foundation’s coordinator and the Federal Police listened to all of those who had violated the area and its resources and spoke with them so that they would stop the conflicts and understand that the land belongs to an Indigenous people, and not to them. After this serious conversation, this type of violation never happened again. The burned area is recuperating, but until today, has not yet fully recovered.

Sheila Gomes Araújo

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Meu nome é Sheila Gomes Araújo, nasci em 17 de janeiro de 1987 e tenho 33 anos. Sou do povo Kantaruré, filha de Raimundo Alves de Araújo e Severina Gomes da Cruz. Sou casada, tenho três filhos e sou estudante da Licenciatura Intercultural em Educação Escolar Indígena (Liceei) na Universidade do Estado da Bahia (Uneb). Moro na aldeia Batida, na Terra Indígena (TI) Kantaruré, no município de Glória (Bahia). Sou formada em Magistério Indígena no nível médio, licenciada em Pedagogia e pós-graduada em Políticas Públicas da Educação Básica. Atualmente, além de frequentar a Liceei, como indiquei, estou cursando uma pós-graduação em Educação Indígena. Muito cedo, aos sete anos de idade, comecei a trabalhar, ajudando minha mãe nas atividades da roça e nas atividades de casa, pois meus pais se separaram quando eu tinha cinco anos. Aos 17, tive meu primeiro filho; aos 18, comecei a trabalhar na escola da minha aldeia, ensinando jovens e adultos, atividade que desempenhei durante dois anos. Logo depois, fui contratada pela prefeitura de Glória como professora das séries iniciais, permanecendo no cargo durante cinco anos. Ao final desse período, passei a ser funcionária do estado da Bahia, com a mesma função. Porém, ensinei, de fato, no ensino fundamental II, com turmas da educação de jovens e adultos (EJA). Hoje, continuo trabalhando na unidade escolar da aldeia onde moro. Essas experiências me ajudaram bastante a valorizar a minha vida e a construir conhecimento para contribuir com meu povo.